history and stories

August 30, 1935


By Judge A. A. Watson

William B. Ross was an early settler in Hardin County having moved here from Wayne County where he had been instrumental in erecting that good county. He settled on Smith's Fork of Indian Creek. He had been at Kings Mountain at that noted battle October 7, 1780. He was born in 1763 and had several brothers, some of whom were with him at King's Mountain, they served under Col. Cleaveland of South Carolina. His brother, who came here with him, was named George, and he had several sons and daughters. William, before coming here, had been a magistrate in Lawrence County and also a magistrate in Wayne County. He moved back to Wayne County before 1840 and died there before that date. Many of the Rosses no living here are akin to him and Gregory Johnson also is akin to this man. William had another brother Frank and also Andrew. Frank was the father of Jesse Ross who was a surveyor, and who moved to his uncle William in Wayne County on Beech Creek where he died in 1852. Andrew was the youngest brother who married an Indian Princess whose maiden name was Ridge. To this union were born two children and the older was boy and they named him John. In early life John was allowed to enter a U. S. government school in the East and was educated there. After his marriage his old chief who was his grandfather died and John became the chief. He lived near Chattanooga and left there in the spring of the year 1838 with the Cherokee tribe for the Indian Territory, came through this county and gathered up the Cherokee who still lived here and took them on with him. There are people in Hardin County akin to John Ross, the Indian, and also some who are akin to the Cherokees whom he took from here. He traveled the Natchez Trace across part of this county, which was the main southwestern route at that date to the far west. Andrew, his father had a ferry at Chattanooga across Tennessee River and the town was called Rosses ferry. The old house that he lived in is still there and I am told in pretty good repair. I am in need f the earliest date recorded in history, let some teacher or High School student give it to me, please.

November 15, 1935


By Judge A. A. Watson

Thompson G. Hurst came to Hardin County at a every early date and settled on Steel's Creek -later the B. R. Freeman old home now owned by Jesse and Sam Moore. Mr. Hurst married a widow Duncan whose maiden name was Robinson. Mrs. Duncan had one child, a son when she and Mr. Hurst married but he died in early manhood. Mr. Hurst was quite prominent as a citizen in his community and was prominent as a member of the Court of Quarterly Sessions, having served as chairman of that court for a number of years. He and Mrs. Hurst reared a large family and their children married and reared families here. One of the daughters married Wilson McDaniel. W. A. McDaniel is descended from that family. One daughter married Ephriam Maddox. They had three sons and two daughters who married here, but most of these families moved away from here. Mrs. Loyd Alexander is a granddaughter. The well known brother, John T. was register of this county from 1878 to 1886, and was also teacher; W. A. Maddox, a member of the Court and Thompson, who lived in Nashville. Thomas Hurst a son of Thompson Hurst, married Miss Bain, daughter of J. A. (Bossy) Bain. Miss Pheby Hurst one of the daughters of Thompson, married Lewis Welch and. they reared a family, the well known Tom and Dan Welch being twins. Wiley who has lately died was also a successful businessman. There was a son, Sterling who moved to Illinois, and Miss Jennie Welch, the daughter, is yet living and knows more about Hardin County People and their families than most men do. She has a wonderful recollection as to families and their present whereabouts. Mr. Sterling Hurst married Miss Margaret Kerr. He was the oldest son of Thompson. Daniel R. Hurst married a Miss Fry, and they reared a largo family. The noted Presbyterian preacher, T. M. Hurst, was their oldest son. Lewis, who died this year, lived at Nashville. Will, who lives in Okla. but came here after a wife last year had in some way got Miss Arbie Falls to marry him and took her west with him. However I must not comment on his having to come here to get a wife, for he seems to be perfectly happy in this new relation, and so does Mrs. Hurst. Mrs. Cynthia Haggard is a daughter, and is the only daughter living. Robinson D. Hurst, well known as Robt. Hurst, is the youngest of this noted family. The subject, Mr. Thomas Hurst, died after the Battle of Shiloh.

July 5, 1990.


By Tony Hays

Often, during the study of history, the records left us are as confusing as eyewitness testimony. We've all heard the story about the five witnesses to the same crime. One said the criminal was short another tall, a third medium the fourth couldn't remember, and the fifth didn't pay any attention. Historical documents can be that way. One says that something happened this way. Another says that way. A third source says it didn't happen at all. The analysis and interpretation of source material is one of the key elements of inaccurate history. The first county seat was at James Hardin's cabin in the Cerro Gordo area. This point cannot be disputed. The first court minutes make explicit reference to this fact. It was decided at that time to look elsewhere for the site of the "permanent" county seat. Traditional history, history which I've both accepted and added to, says that Old Town (then known as Hardinsville) was selected in 1820. The records then indicated that the Turkey Creek site remained as the county seat for some seven or eight years, until the will of the people formed its transfer to Rudd's Ferry, the present site of Savannah. And there the county seat has remained until the present day. This may not be quite the case. Recent evidence has surfaced which suggests that the Turkey Creek site was abandoned within three years of its establishment as the seat of government. New historical material constantly appears which challenges informed opinion. Usually, such information has to be considered with a jaundiced eye, but after analysis, if it can't be disproved, it has to be given credence. This is the case with this new data. While the revelation about the Old Town site isn't earthshaking, it does provide a new perspective on the first county seat. If true, it offers an explanation on why a thriving community so suddenly and easily died. An infant town, of only three years, will more quickly fade than a town of twice or three times that age. Even the removal of the county government shouldn't have been so devastating a blow. After all, the county's road system was designed with the Old Town site as something of a crossroads, a perfect place for business. The evidence: Three different maps of Tennessee, dated from 1823 to 1827 all show the county seat at a town called Hardinsville, located on the Tennessee River at the approximate site of Rudd's Ferry. If the mapmakers were accurate, then this represents a significant change in County history. Sources indicate that Rudd's Ferry wasn't designated as the county seat until sometime between 1827 and 1830. But, if you check carefully, you'll notice that most say "by 1830" the seat of government was at Rudd's Ferry then called Savannah. This, too, fits into the scheme woven by the maps. The county court minutes provide a great deal of evidence, which on the surface, would seem to contradict the mapmakers. Town lots in Hardinsville were sold to a number of people starting in 1824. Alexander Sweeney and others snapped up lots that year. But which Hardinsville was this? Court minutes also provide the answer to that. It was not until late 1822 that David Robinson and James Kincannon started selling blocks of land to the commissioners of the town of Hardinsville. This was some two years after the site at Old Town had been approved. The time differential there is the key. Why wait two years to buy the land for a location already agreed upon? The answer is simply that Hardinsville was about to be relocated to the Rudd's Ferry site. Therefore, the lots purchased by Alexander Sweeney and others were actually located in the new Hardinsville, not at the Old Town site. Such analysis of the evidence accommodates all differing and contrary bits of information. Any other interpretation leaves too many questions unanswered. This new information doesn't appreciably change the history of Hardin County. It relegates the site at Old Town to a position of a little less prominence than before. But at the same time, it adds age to Savannah and positions the little village as the county seat far earlier than had ever been suspected. Divining what happened one hundred and seventy years ago is a difficult and often impossible task. We are left only with tantalizing clues and ambiguous bits of information to decipher the truth.

July 19, 1990.


By Tony Hays

Too often people who played a meaningful role in history are relegated to the footnotes. Though their contributions have been significant they have been lost in the wake of bigger names and mightier deeds. So it has been for many years and will for a long time to come. But every once in a while we can rescue some of these men and women from their anonymity. And in doing so, we catch another glimpse of the people who built Hardin County. Two of these people are Elisha and Shelton Smith. Among the first settlers of Hardin County were two brothers-Shelton and Elisha Smith. They were big, raw bones boys, quick to lend a hand when it was needed, which, it would seem by the county records was often. One of the first jobs the pair had was guarding the Indian than who killed Jacob Blackwell. The whole story has been told elsewhere. Suffice it to say that Blackwell and the Indian had coveted the same horse, each stealing it in his own turn. In the end, the Indians killed Blackwell and the situation grew tense. Now, in those days, hostile Indians were more a fear than a problem. But fear is a powerful motivator. For the Indian's safekeeping, he was remanded into the custody of Elisha and Shelton Smith. The pair had the unenviable task of transporting the Indian to Columbia to the jail. This meant traversing the danger-fraught Natchez Trace. But contemporary accounts indicate that it would have taken a brave man indeed to have mixed with the Smiths. Their physical prowess was known far and wide. Elisha owned a tavern and such men were used to dealing with hard cases on a daily basis. Well, they did their job and did it well by all accounts. The problem came when it was time to pay them. For some reason, payment was ordered at a consecutive term of court before it was ever rendered. Even then, in those days, the government moved slow. Both Elisha and Shelton had served as constables in the first days of the county, so occurrences such as the one above were not uncommon. However, Elisha was about to become involved in another episode in which almost caused the end of Savannah before it began. By this time, Elisha had married the daughter of Reverend John Watson from Camp Creek and his reputation as a man of strength had grown. The new town of Savannah had recently sprung from the banks of the Tennessee. The new courthouse was being prepared for the first term of court to be held in the young river village. As part of the festivities, county officials had arranged for a wrestling match between Elisha and Simpson Lee, the two premier strongmen in the county. The crowd grew so large that people began climbing on top of the buildings surrounding the ring to get a better view. Unfortunately, as Lee and Smith tussled it out in the ring, the weight on the rooftops became uncontrollable and in the middle of the bout, those roofs (including the new courthouse) collapsed. You would have thought Hurricane Hugo had struck, so extensive was the damage. No one seems to know who won the fight. After that event news of Elisha and Shelton Smith wears thin. Elisha is mentioned in his father-in-law's will in 1837. But soon, like his brother, he too faded from the scene. Like thousand of others before them, they slipped quietly from the pages of Hardin County history.. Probably, they and their descendants moved to other parts of the country.

July 26, 1990


By Tony Hays

Some men are exceptional. Every so often we hear of a man with more, university degrees than you could shake a stick at. He holds a doctor of this and a doctor of that. He holds degrees in gobbledygook and certificates in mumbo-jumbo. Universities, these days, hand out degrees for just about anything you could name. This is the age of specialization we are told. A man must specialize to succeed. The world has outgrown us and only by slinging our saddle on one narrow, sway-backed nag can we hope to prosper. Times haven't always been like this. There was a time in this country when men, held one and even two professional degrees. And they were earned, degrees, not honorary ones handed out for publicities sake more than to honor an individual. Within the annals of Hardin County history, is the story of Dr. Joel Casey, an enigmatic figure, but one whose tale needs to be told, for he was one of those rare individuals of the last century, who held not one, but two degrees (or titles); who practiced not one, but two professions. And by all accounts, he was respected in both. Not only was Joel Casey one of the best educated men in the county's history, but he was also one of the earliest settlers in the area of Old Town. Joel Casey was born in Virginia on June 15, 1775, just as the country was gaining its independence. Much of his early life is lost due to the passage of time, but it is fair to assume that he was educated in the common schools of his day. Early in his life, the major text used in the classroom was the Bible. But about the time that Casey would have been progressing into more specialized study, Thomas Jefferson changed the curriculum of Virginia schools to include studing Greek, Latin, and mathematics, beside the religious studies offered by the King James Bible. It is clear from this that Casey definitely had a classical education. It's time to stop for a minute and let you know that Joel Casey had degrees in both law and medicine. We know that in two ways. One, that he was a practicing attorney in Hardin County. Secondly, it is noted on his tombstone that he was a doctor. We don't know just when he took his degree, or which came first. It is possible that he studied at the College of William and Mary or he could have spent time at Jefferson's University of Virginia. His alma mater is unclear. But, aside from this the young lawyer and physician decided to leave his home in Virginia and come to Tennessee sometime during the 1810s. Perhaps he had heard about the opening of the west Tennessee area, perhaps not. At any rate, he brought his wife, Rebecca and his children, and came to Hardin County some time around 1820. It is about that time that we are able to pick up the trail of the elusive Dr. Casey and can begin to measure his contribution to county history. The first record of Dr. Casey's presence in the county came on January 8, 1822. On that day, Casey was licensed to practice law within Hardin County. Obviously, by this time, he had already achieved his degree and, was the custom in those days, had read law with a reputable firm for some time. Since the county did not require the licensing of physicians, we can only assume that he already had this degree as well. Once acknowledged as a county resident, Casey immediately became involved in county affairs. In July of 1822, he was named as one of the commissioners to settle with former county court clerk James Hardin. As you may recall from earlier columns, Hardin refused to cooperate with this group and they were forced to return to the county court empty handed. Casey had become a member of the court sometime around April of that year. The commissioners were relieved of their charge. Hardin never did comply with the request of the court that he settle. Casey, as well as a lawyer and physician, was a farmer. And like almost all other farmers in Hardin County, he had to insure that his stock could be identified by others. To that end, Casey appeared before the, county court on January 9,1823 and registered his stock mark. From then on, Casey animals would be known by a split in each ear. The next two years provide but little additional information concerning Casey. On July 7, 1824, he purchased 80 acres of land from A.W. Sweeney, a prominent figure in county politics and owner of the county's hat and saddle shop. Almost a year later, he was named as a school commissioner of the then fledgling school system of Hardin County. County records are remarkably silent on Casey for the remainder of his life. He sold some land to his son, Joel Casey, during the 1840s, but few other details are available. As with the most rural physicians, he was probably away from home frequently and Rebecca was left to manage the farm and other affairs. Odds are that he was in attendance at every session of the county court. Lawyers who failed to make these meetings often lacked for clients. In 1850, Joel's household had grown sparse. All his children had left home. The only ones remaining were he and his wife, Rebecca (who was some four years younger than he) and two women-Nancy Pearrin and Elizabeth Mitchell. The Pearrin woman was sixty-eight years old at the time. The Mitchell woman was much younger -being only twenty-six. Dr. Joel Casey died at his Old Town home on June 28, 1853. His will was probated the first of August. Unfortunately, this is a time period from which none of the wills have survived. If Casey's had, much might yet be known about his life. Rebecca lived on until after the Civil War. Her will was presented in 1867. It must have been terrible hard for Rebecca to have lived through that era without her husband. Men like Joel Casey were few and far between. They were an exceptional breed of men. Versed in not one but two professional fields, they offered an unusual resource to a county such as Hardin. But every county has men like Casey in her history. And every county should be proud of them.

July 26, 1990.


(picture) The Mill Rock that was used to grind corn into meal at Campbell's Mill for so many years now stands in the yard of Danny Wardlow at Counce. Robert Wardlow, an old-timer from the area and Danny's grandfather, sits on the mill rock and recalls tales he heard his father tell about Campbells's Mill.

The Old Mill On Chambers Creek.

Long before the Civil War, a small community grew up around a mill in the Counce area. People brought their grain from miles and miles around to be ground at the mill.Old timers say Campbell's Mill was built by damming Chambers Creek, which is located about two miles southwest of Counce. It was a turbine type mill, and operated by the same principles as the turbines which turn the generators at Pickwick Dam. When settlers first came to the county, they brought with them a supply of cornmeal, enough to last until land could be cleared and a crop planted. In those days, cornmeal was essential to every meal. Before the grist mill was built it was a big job for the pioneers to pound out the corn until it was fine enough to stick together. The pounded corn became mush, hoe cakes, Johnny cakes, hominy grits and a major ingredient for homemade whiskey. The rotating millstones at Campbell's Mill could turn out lots of ground corn, compared to the weary pioneer's mortar and pestle method, or simple pounding method. It was a popular spot in the early days of the county, with wagon loads of corn frequently traveling down the dirt road to the mill. Usually, one wagon would contain corn from several neighbors. They sent "turns" of corn, usually one or two bushels per family. Most families used a millet seed sack for a meal sack. Millet sacks were prized possessions of most families. Mancil Milligan, who used to go to the mill with his father, Joe Milligan said it took all day to get there from Childers Hill, where they lived. Mills like Campbell's Mill were scattered all over the county, and were known as overshot mills. These mills had a large wooden wheel with buckets or troughs attached. The water traveled down a flume or trough and poured over the top of the wheel, filling the buckets to where the weight of the water turned the wheel. Some of the owners and operators of the Campbell Mill were J R. Milligan, Joe Milligan and Billy Hindman. Hindman was possibly the last operator of the mill. Water was no longer used to turn the mill rocks when gasoline engines came into existence. When Joe Milligan operated the mill, he had a fish trap below the turbine discharge of the mill. If a neighbor wanted a mess of fish he just raised the trap and gave the neighbor all he wanted. After the rain he raised the trap and sometimes would get almost a cotton basket of catfish. A cotton basket was a necessity on all farms. Usually there was someone in the community who made cotton baskets and "bottomed" chairs out of white oak splits. These splits were made from a young white oak which would split easily and were about an inch wide. A cotton basket was similar to a bushel fruit basket except much larger. They were called cotton baskets because early pioneers used them for picking cotton before they had cloth to make cotton sacks. Some of the early settlers in the area were the Battles, Hindmans, Hicks, Blakneys and Milligans. These people made their living on "one horse farms." They had hogs and cows, and after "putting in a crop," most of the men hauled crossties from the virgin forests in the area. Of course in the early days, a few men, such as Gus Thomas, made their living by making com whiskey. Thomas was a frequent visitor to Campbell's Mill, getting his corn ground into meal, which was a major ingredient in the fine corn whiskey he made. This man's whiskey making and whiskey drinking got him into trouble many times. He went to the penitentiary after being found guilty killing a man who had allegedly "tipped off a government revenue man about the location of a still. Thomas' nephew was killed by that revenue man. Robert Wardlow said his father was a good friend of Gus Thomas, and he described him as a perfect gentleman, a kind man, and a good neighbor, whose dark side emerged when he drank whiskey. Mancil Milligan said lots of people in that area drank corn whiskey. "My grandfather, J. R. Milligan, liked a little jigger of pure brew before breakfast" he said. "That was the extent of his drinking." It was rumored that he would grind the sprouted corn the whiskey was made of at night on the old water mill. The whiskey maker, in turn, would bring him a jug of the sparkling "dew." Near the mill a school called Pine Knot stood, and teacher Reid Phillips taught several grades there. Students would go out each day and bring in arm loads of pine knots, which they burned in the stove to keep warm. He permitted the students to move long benches around the stove to try to ward off the cold. Some of the teachers at Pine Knot School were Icie Barlow, Patie Willett, and Zura and Eunice Roberts. Familiar landmarks in the vicinity of Pine Knot School were White Oak Stand, Pine Flatts and Dry Pond. Today there is still a frequently used wooden bridge over Cambers Creek near where the mill once stood. The water under the bridge is a haven for weekenders, who enjoy fishing, picnicking and swimming, or simply strolling across the unique wooden bridge.

August 9, 1990


(Picture) CROSSROADS Union Church on Poplar Springs Road has a new look. Church members have blacktopped the parking lot, bricked the building, erected new sign, and made general improvements on both the inside and outside of the church. Covey Robbins has served as pastor there for the past 14 years, and he also served the church as pastor at Crossroads about 40 years ago. Crossroads Union Church has been serving the Whitlow community for over 100 years. The Poplar Springs Road property was deeded to the community by Gus Whitlow, the father of the late Dr. Otis Whitlow, with the stipulation it be used as both a school and a church. "The church affairs were not to interfere with the school," said Mrs. Clytie Jennings, whose mother attended church there. "If they were having a revival, the students went to school anyway. The revival could only be held after school let out." In the beginning, Crossroads was a Methodist Church, but for many years, it has been a Union Church and has been affiliated with no certain denomination. Until Hardin County schools were consolidated in the '40s, the little school and church served the community well. Grades one through eight were taught there, and boys and girls usually went to school until they married. Students walked to school. One of the points of the church today is the congregational and special singing. The Crossroads Singers emerged from that congregation, and sing at many homecomings and singings around the county. The group is comprised of Patricia Alexander, Vickie Franks, Shelly Murphy, Boyd Murphy, G. C. McCasland and Kathy Hosea. The Melson Family with Bill Murphy also sings during church services and for outside singing events. The church elders are Gilbert Rainey, Boyd Murphy and Larry Joe Rainey, who also serves as song leader. Boyd Murphy is the Superintendent of Sunday School. A revival begins, at Crossroads on Aug. 12 and extends through Aug. 18. Featured speakers will be Jimmy Daniels and Scott Melson.

August 9, 1990



AN OLD PHOTO of one of the Shiloh School building featuring teachers, students, a man on a horse and a pig. All the boys and girls were dressed in their finest clothes and a lady on the back row is wearing a fancy hat and holding a small baby.

(picture) HISTORIC Shiloh Methodist Church stands near the site where the school set for almost a century.

(picture) SUPERINTENDENT of Shiloh Park in the early 1900's was DeLong Rice, who was instrumental in getting funding for the school which was built in 1928.

(picture) RHEA SPRINGS provided water for Shiloh School for many years. The boys walked daily to the spring to bring buckets of water to the school.

(picture) A PAINTING of Shiloh School done by Pickwick artist Syble Marlar hangs in the living room of the Mancil Milligan home in Counce. The Illinois monument is in front of the school, and that monument was used as a background for many of the school photo graphs which appeared in the annual.

Shiloh School may have been disbanded for 36 years since the student body was consolidated into the new Southside School, but its spirit lives on. Once a year, for the past 18 years, persons who attended this school gather for an annual reunion, to keep the school days memories alive. According to information from Mancil Milligan, who wrote a brief history of the school, Shiloh School was begun in about 1840. A log building with puncheon floors and seats was erected. It was heated with a stick and dirt fireplace and chimney. The Methodist congregation also used the building as a house of worship until their church building was erected in 1851. The reason many old timers believe this is because a Smidick child was buried on school property. The first school building burned before the Battle of Shiloh. The next known building was a three room frame building. In the early 1900's a board of three trustees, men from the Shiloh area was in charge of the operation of the school. They hired the teachers, bought wood for the stoves which heated the school and saw to the maintenance of the building. At times, the trustees were called upon to act as mediators in disagreements between teachers and pupils and teachers and parents. Three men who served on this board for many years and gave much of their time to support the school were Jim Glover, John Barnett and Walter Wood. Teachers during this early period were Dr. J. M. (Jack) Smith, Warren Sloan, Marshal Jones, Reed Phillips, Grover Surratt, Claude English, Harry Hodges Cecil Barnett, Eliza Ellis, Lora Emmons, Era Emmons, Velma Winningham, Ester Springer and Lear Durbin. Several of these teachers had also been students in the same building. This three room building housed all grades, one through ten. Grades 9 and 10 occupied one room and grades 1-8 were in the other two rooms. In 1917, a move to a new building was begun by some Shiloh students. Lear Durbin spearheaded the drive with the assistance of Kitty Barnett. Various fund-raisers were put on to fund the massive project. There were box suppers and cake walks and once some citizens put on a production of Hiawatha. Often, the school children would meet the excursion boats on the Tennessee River which brought many visitors to the Shiloh Battlefield. These visitors were asked to contribute to the fund for a modern building ...and many of them did. It a lot of hard work to raise $8,000, but that was all the citizens could come up with. The modern block building would never have been built had the federal government not helped. In 1926 DeLong Rice, the superintendent at Shiloh National Military Park became interested in the project and through his efforts and the efforts of then Congressman Gordon Browning, a $10,000 grant was secured from the government. With the $18,000, a ten room school was erected in 1928. Much of the equipment in this building was built and bought by the teachers and patrons of the school. Mancil Milligan, who taught there, along with his wife, Ivy, built many of the interior cabinets and fixtures. The first teachers in this school were John Hinkle, Lillie Farris, and Mancil and Ivy Milligan. At first it was a 10 grade school, but the school grew and soon became a four year accredited high school. Students from the communities of Counce, Wayne, Childers Hill, New Hope and West Shiloh were bussed to this school, and the first class graduated in 1931. The members of this class were Dan Curtis, Honor Curtis, Arie Curtis, Wilford Milligan, Hazel Wood, Allen Poindexter, Hazel Barren, Roscoe Jeffreys, Mary Ellen Counce, Bart Parnell and Irene Blakney. From the school's beginning in 1840 until 1928, there was no well or running water at Shiloh School. The bigger boys carried buckets of water from Rhea Springs, which was south of the building and down a hill. There were no bathrooms or toilets. Students went outside and into the woods. The boys went to the right side of the school house and the girls

Continued on page 4

November 1, 1990


By Tony Hays

We've talked a great deal in these articles about where Hardin Countians have gone, where they've ended up. I'm still trying to track down a group of blacks who left Savannah around the turn of the century headed for Oklahoma to start their own town. But one of the aspects of Hardin County history which we've not spent a great deal of time discussing is where Hardin Countians originated. We all came from somewhere else, so the saying goes. Probably the largest contributor to Hardin County's population over the years was North Carolina. The large coastal state was one of the colonies in pre-Revolutionary days. The population, while sparse by today's standards, was rather dense during the early 1800s as the western lands of Tennessee were opening up. News of the opening of those lands brought a great deal of excitement to the people of North Carolina. Many of them owned grants in the new territory based on their service in the Revolution. Others were willing to take their chances and either pay the land speculator's price or squat in hopes of earning the land through future legislation. A great deal of movement occurred in western North Carolina during the time period 1818 to the Civil War. Many people staked their hopes, of prosperity on the unknown lands of the old southwest. The 1850 census is the first that lists each member of the household and their age and birthplace. A look at some of the families who lived in Hardin, but whose origins were in North Carolina, should be interesting and provide a prime example of how many Hardin Countians came from the old colony. Other articles will treat those in the 1850 census who came from other states as well. Levi Hollingsworth and his wife Mary were North Carolina natives. They had ten children most of whom were born in Tennessee. Levi had apparently joined the ever-growing tide of Immigration early in his married life. It is difficult to calculate the number of people who actually made the same decision as Levi and Mary to move west. Record-keeping was sadly inaccurate in those long ago days with poor transportation and communication routes. But Levi and Mary weren't the only North Carolinians who had come to Hardin County. Old John Gilchrist came with members of his family. When John died in Hardin County in 1852 at the age of eighty, a controversy arose over the administration of his estate. Cornelius Gilchrist, John's son, was forced step down. And there was an effort to reach relatives of John s who didn't live in Hardin County, probably who still remained in North Carolina. Several members of the Gilbert family had come to Hardin County by 1850. Joseph and Milly Gilbert and their children; Martha, Andrew, and John C. Gilbert were in residence as were Stephen Gilbert and his large family. The Gilberts all lived close to one another, as the custom usually was. Members of the Daniel Bain's family had moved from North Carolina to Hardin Count y. And with them was the family of Theophilus Allison, Wilson Bachelor, Asa Barnes, David and Sarah Bishop, Benjamin F. Alexander and wife Mary, Eleanor Ashcraft. The list goes on and on. North Carolina was a large producer of Hardin County settlers in the early years. North Carolinians often wrote back home about the cheap, fertile land to be found in the western territory. But even as they praised Hardin County and the plentiful land there, they held out even more hope for the promise of lands further west. Those who took the westward trail had itchy feet and their wandering urge never seemed completely satisfied. There was always one more hill to climb and one more valley to explore.

November 15, 1990


By Tony Hays

When Thetus Sims was forced to give up his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, his replacement was a young man from Savannah who had seemingly followed in his own footsteps. The election of 1920 continued the Republican sweep which had begun m 1918. In 1918, the GOP took wiped out the Democrats slim majority in the house and posted a new majority of fifty. Two years later, they overwhelmed the Democrats even further winning an additional sixty-three seats. Lon Allen Scott was facing a friendly Congress when he traveled to Washington to take his oath of office in 1921. Lon Allen Scott like his predecessor Thetus Sims, was born in Wayne County. Scott was born on a farm near the Cypress Inn community. And like Sims, he moved with his parents to Savannah at an early age. Scott attended the small public schools in Savannah and, when he reached the appropriate age, he entered the Savannah Institute under the tutelage of Professor W.R. Rogers, one of Hardin County's best known educators. Rogers' reign at the Savannah Institute has often been praised by those who remember his dedication to education. Scott most certainly got the best education available in Savannah at that time. After his graduation from the Institute, Scott again followed in the footsteps of Thetus Sims and left Savannah for Lebanon and the Cumberland School of Law. He received his degree in 1915 returned to Savannah to engage in lumber, mercantile, and real estate pursuits. But Scott was already a budding politician and at the youthful age of 25, before even receiving his law degree, he was elected to the State House of Representatives. His graduation from Cumberland in 1915 was followed by his reelection to the House and his appointment as the Republican floor leader. It was in 1917, during his last year in the Tennessee House that he gained statewide prominence as the House prosecutor of Attorney General Estes in the impeachment proceedings before the State Senate. But 1917 was more than a year of political scandal; it was in 1917 that the United States entered the First World War, and while Thetus Sims was urging the U.S. House of Representatives to move quickly to a state of war, his successor was resigning from the Tennessee House to enlist in the Army as a private. Soon, however, Scott was promoted to lieutenant and that was the rank in which he finished his military service. After the war, Scott retuned to Savannah and in the wake of the Democratic fall from grace, was triumphed as the most suitable candidate for the Republican nomination for the U. S. House. It was a prime time for Scott to win. The Democrats were on their way out and long time political powerhouse, Thetus Sims, had been rejected b by the party for the nomination. Without an incumbent to battle, Scott waltzed into office on the Republican landslide of that year. Once in office, Scott quickly made his presence known. As with many freshman congressmen he was placed on the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds. While choicer committee assignments existed, Scott made use of his position to immediately introduce four pieces of legislation which directly effected constituents. Three of these bills called for the construction of post office buildings in Savannah, Huntingdon, and Lexington. The fourth bill provided for the construction of a road to Shiloh National Military Park. Scott was doing everything he could for the district, but the leader of his party wasn't following suit. Warren G. Harding commanded one of the most scandal-ridden administrations in U.S. history. And when the elections of 1922 arrived, the Democrats, in a mirror image of the 1920 elections, turned seventy-five Republican congressmen back out of office. Lon Allen Scott was one of those. Scott returned to Savannah having only served one term m Congress. He took up once again his varied business interests and lived out his few remaining days in Savannah where he died Feb. 11, 1931. The experience of Lon Scott is not unique in the annals of American politics. More than once, a promising young career has been cut short, not because of any misdoings on his part but because the shift in political opinion was great enough to bring about his defeat. Some would say that's the beauty of the American System.

July 28, 1994

Community News (Adamsville, TN)


By Ellen Schumacher

The old Huggins Cemetery at Gravel Hill was the scene recently of a dedication of a grave marker for James Monroe Huggins, a veteran of the Civil War. Members of the Huggins family were called to order by Fae Boutotte of Centerville, Texas and Samuel Raymond Burroughs, Chapter 2445 of UDC, Buffalo, Texas. Invocation was given by Don Huggins and welcome by Paul Schumacher. Two living granddaughters of James Monroe Huggins, Alta Huggins Pickering and Martha Huggins Coln, participated in the the dedication ceremony. Martha Coln is a member of the UDC, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter 1194 in Memphis. Other members of the Huggins family in the program, given according to the ritual of the UDC of were: Jack Boutotte, Kerry Sue Coln Street, member of Chapter 1194; Mark Street, member of Mary Forrest Bradley Chapter 5, Memphis and Ellen Huggins Schumacher of Selmer. Huggins enlisted in the Confederate Army on Dec. 1, 1863. He was the father of seven children. He enlisted as a private in Company A, 19th called Newsom's Tennessee Cavalry of the Confederate States Army. He saw action at Brices Crossroads on Tisomingo Creek and at the Battle of Harrisburg. Huggins along with John B. Michie, Lee J. Howell, Will Hogan, Jeff Walker, H.C. Chambers, T.G. Springer, G. B. McKenzie, T. H. and J. S. Prather, Frederick Wagoner, S. S. and W.J. Littlejohn, were part of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Cavalry. It is said that, "they listened intently to Forrest's final farewell when he cut up the stars and bars of the precious silk flag. Pieces of the flag were given to each soldier who fought the final months of the campaign on sheer blood and guts." A gentle rain fell on the grave of James Monroe Huggins and the other early settlers as taps were heard on the surrounding hillsides. The dedication read: "Not for fame or fortune; Not for place of rank; Not lured by ambition; But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it; This man suffered all; Sacrificed all; Dared all and died." The, Confederate flag was placed on the grave by Mark Street.

Savannah Courier

Thursday, May 9, 1996

Hookers Bend

Stores, doctor and dance songs are memories of the once thriving community in a bend of the river.

Many years ago a Hooker family came down the Tennessee River on a raft and landed at a beautiful little site right in the bend of the river. It seemed perfectly logical that the community should take the name "Hookers Bend."

Generations ago community youngsters chanted a little rhyme. It went like this:

"Hookers Bend

the devils den

The damnedest place

You've ever been

Two stores

and a cotton gin."

The two stores referred to in the chant were Allen's Store and White's Store, both of which were stocked with all of life's necessities. Allen's Store, still standing, was run for a long time by Nat and Zora Allen Carmon, and by her parents before them. White's store was destroyed by fire several years ago.

Later, Fisher Store served the community. It was the last store in Hooker's Bend, and closed several years ago.

The cotton gin was owned by Joe Shull. He and his wife had a beautiful old home filled with lovely antiques on the river bank.

The cotton gin as well as a canning factory were located in an area that is today called Dickey Landing. It is a recreation area. There is a "camping" atmosphere and the people from the city come here to enjoy the quiet and the river on weekends. It is a fisherman's paradise.

Pitts Store in the Cerro Gordo community stands just across the Tennessee River from Dickey Landing. In the early 1900s the store owners erected a large bell on a pole. When one of the Hookers Bend residents wanted to go shopping at the store, they would ring the bell and Barney or Frank Pitts would take a boat across the river to pick up the customers. The pole and bell is underwater today, covered when the government built three dikes to raise the river in that area, as it was too shallow. The workers couldn't remove the bell because bees had built a hive inside it.

The area known as Hookers Bend follows the river for less than 10 miles in western Hardin County.

At one time the area was thickly populated with Blankenships, Allens, Gareys, Harveys, Powers, Rinks, Lanes, Copelands, Lees, Storys, Whites, McDougals, Watsons, Brooks, Fishers, Dickeys, Harrisons, Ratliffs, Smiths and Bains. Most of these families have left the community and the old homes are empty and decaying now.

One of the physicians who practiced medicine in Hookers Bend was, Dr. Alex McDougal. He was a doctor there for about 50 years and also did dental work, dispensed drugs and operated a large farm in the community. He died in 1928 and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery in the community.

His eulogy, written by Frank Smith, was published in the SAVANNAH COURIER when he died. It read in part:

"For sixty years, regardless of night or day or weather and the hardship of horseback trips, he administered sympathy and medicine in divine and human mixture to restore the sick and suffering. His eyes sparkled with the light of a soul big with charity. The folks 'down in the bend' will miss him more than any other man who has passed that way in a very long time."

In yesteryear, May 30 was one of the biggest days of the year for residents of the small river town. A large paddle boat docked at the river's edge and picked up most of the members of the community. Residents rode it to Shiloh National Military Park for the Memorial Day ceremonies. "This was one of the biggest events in our lives," said one old-timer. "Riding the paddle boat was an adventure in itself and the festivities at Shiloh were elaborate. The paddle boat docked at what is now Dickey Landing."

One of the early schools was called Antioch and it was a combination church and school. Many of the early settlers attended the Oakland School and a church of the same name is still active today.

One of the recreational places for Hookers Bend residents was the Sulphur Springs dance hall. The local girls would walk down the dusty road to get there, carrying their silk stockings and high heels in a paper sack and stopping at a house near the dance hall to wash their feet, put on their stockings and high heels, and head for the dance.

A band wearing white uniforms with gold braid trim from St. Louis, Mo. played for the Saturday night dances. Songs like "Tea for Two" and "My Blue Heaven" were played as men and women danced. This was during the Roaring '20s era and the women dressed up in short fringed dresses with headbands and the men wore zoot suits.

Often, while many of the Hookers Bend residents were dancing, the church folks were praying for them especially at revival time.

But many of the parents encouraged their children to go to the dances. In fact, they encouraged them, and went along to watch.

It was reportedly good, clean fun.

Some of the best dancers of the early days were Charlie Lay, Mary Cherry Winship and Edwin DeFord.

Hookers Bend is quiet today. Farmers are planting spring crops and the fishermen are heading for the river.

If you park your car and gaze at the river, you can almost hear the tolling of the old bell that went to its watery grave when the government raised the river.

And sometimes, when the breezes blow just right through the huge trees, you can hear the brass band playing the songs of the twenties, or barefoot children chanting...

"Hookers Bend,

the devil's den

The damnedest place

you've ever been.

Two stores

and a cotton gin."

Roberta Cude

Feature WriterlPhotographer

(Two Photos with caption)

THE PHOTOS: At top, known for years as the Nat Carmon store, this building is a familiar sight in the Hookers Bend community. Now it's used for storage and as a woodcraft shop for Guy Delaney who now owns it. Delaney's home is next door. Above, once a vital part of the small northwest Hardin County community, an abandoned church sags in the midday sun, weathering away.

Thursday, July 4, 1996


At the age of 17, Savannah resident Newton Baker left Savannah by boat to join the "Grand Army of the Republic." The restless Savannah teenager landed at Springfield, Ill., and began his war service with the Federal army during the War Between the States. Baker (1846-1932) served in Company F, 13th Illinois Cavalry. The late Effie Johnson of the Nixon community was Baker's granddaughter and she had said in an earlier interview that during her childhood her grandfather told her many of his war experiences. He told her about fighting in his native Hardin County during the Battle of Shiloh, about the horrors of the battle and about serving as a guard at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln, whom he greatly admired. Mrs. Johnson had said that her grandfather thought Lincoln was the "foundation of the world." Her grandfather considered Lincoln the greatest man who ever lived and the two men shared a common denominator: they were both staunch Republicans. Even though he loved and admired Lincoln, he would never talk about the President's assassination, by orders of the government. There was a veil of silence surrounding Lincoln's death. And, loyal to his country, Baker always followed the orders he was given not to talk about his death. He is remembered as a man who had a lot of fun in life. When war talk emerged, his sons-in-law would query, "And where were you when all this was going on? Behind a tree?" In a 1977 interview, Mrs. Johnson said that one happy memory of her life as "Grandpa's favorite grandchild" was the arrival of his monthly pension check. She said that she sure did like to help him spend the check. His pension started out as $50 a month and later increased to $100 a month, which was a lot of money in those days. The check not only bought her frivolous things like dolls, but was used to help put her through high school. She and her grandfather enjoyed the "big days" at Shiloh, April 6 and 7, and the anniversary of the battle was always well-attended. She and her grandfather would ride their horses to the river, then ride the ferry across. They both liked the marching and bugle playing and of course the patriotic songs. Mrs. Johnson's great-great grandchildren, Mitzi, Mitchell and Jetta Johnson and Jay and Elizabeth Reynolds, have many of their grandfather's memoirs. Her great grandchildren now enjoy hearing the story of their ancestor who played a role in history. Newton G. Baker died on his "pension day" in November 1932. Mrs. Johnson was married then, and had one son, her grandfather's namesake. The infant died a few months later. Her parents choose to bury Johnson in Mt. Zion Cemetery in the Nixon community instead of in Shiloh Cemetery. He is flanked by his two wives, Parlee Gamill Baker and Rosetta Rousey Baker.

Roberta Cude

Staff WriterlPhotographer

(Picture of Newton G. Baker's Grave Marker with caption)

Mount Zion Cemetery in the Nixon community, is the final resting place of Newton Baker, who was a guard at the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln. His family chose to bury him near his Nixon home rather than at Shiloh National Cemetery. Baker was always secretive about the circumstances surrounding the death of the President. He was ordered not to talk about it and he never did.

(Picture of great-great grandchildren of Newton Baker with caption)

Learning about President Abraham Lincoln are the great-great-grandchildren of Newton Baker who served in the federal army during the War Between the States and was a guard at the funeral of the U.S. President. From left are Mary Margaret Reynolds, Joshua Berry, Justin Reynolds holding Grant Johnson, Jack DeBerry holding Benjamin Hopper, Stephanie Styers and Jessica Johnson. The Johnson and Reynolds children are the grandchildren of Mary Gene Johnson Reynolds who was the daughter of Effie Johnson, and the Styers child is the granddaughter of Ann Styers who was the daughter of Edith Baker DeBerry, also the grandchild of Newton Baker. The DeBerry and Hopper children are the grandchildren of Bondell Deberry, the grandson of Edith Baker DeBerry.

November 21, 1996

Robetta Cude/ Feature Writer/Photographer


Even before Joseph Hardin blazed the trail into Hardin County, it was there. It was probably there forever, from, the day when God created the earth. "And God said, 'Let the waters which were under, the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. He called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters was called Seas; and God saw that it was good." Genesis i-.910. There are tall rocks ---a bluff, and below it, swift flowing Indian Creek ... water and land. The rock formation, surrounded by trees and bushes, was once home to tribes of native Americans who lived there. They traveled in canoes down Indian Creek and fished and hunted in the area around what came to be known as Love Bluff. And they drank cool, clearwater from the fast-flowing spring. "I growed up a around Love Bluff," said Bill Love. "I was raised down in that area and that bluff is named after some of my ancestors. The land, located in the northeastern part of Hardin County, is now owned by Douglas Alexander. His grandfather, H.N. Love, once owned the land, and there were several families living in that area. Love used to spend a lot of time fishing in Indian Creek when he was a youngster and even after he was grown. "We always sat down on the rocks under the overhanging, bluff. A man could walk under it. Why you could even have driven a car under it," he said. "It was mighty cool under there, and the fish were always biting. I'd catch bass and bream and plenty of catfish." Love said he and his friends had a well-trodden path down the hill to the area under the bluff. He commented on the spout spring that ran out of the rock. "That, cold water runs year round," he said, adding that the waters of Indian Creek were deep in that fishing spot. It was also a swimming hole and he and his friends spent many happy summer days diving and swimming there. Love said he sure wished he owned the property. "I'd make a tourist attraction out of it he said. "I'll bet that rock is 50 feet thick." He said that he found many arrowheads around Love Bluff when he was a youngster. We didn't think much about those things back then," he said. Landowner Alexander (see continued but not scanned)

November 14, 1996


100 year olds live in own home and still keep house

Roberta Cude / Feature Writer / Photographer

Reta and Zella Hopper "tied the knot" almost 77 years ago, and it's still firmly and secured "tied" in an everlasting love. Both 100 years old, they live alone in the Bath Springs community, and still keep house and do their own cooking. He's up early and cooks a full breakfast of bacon, eggs and homemade biscuits. Zella prepares some of the other meals, with the help of the home health care personnel who visit them daily. Her marriage partner does the kitchen cleanup. One of her specialties is apple fried pies. Except for a few night spent in the hospital, the couple has never been apart. They met at Sunday school. "I liked her looks," said Reta. "She was so small and pretty." He asked if he could walk her home. Zella kind of liked his looks, too, and she agreed. Her father limited their visits to church affairs, so he went back to Sunday school and church with her ... every time the doors opened. The romance continued and soon he asked her to do a little dancing with him. He said he wasn't a very good dancer, but he could "knock a few steps. I just wanted to dance with her ... to hold her close." Hopper reminisced about their courting days, their square dancing and their walks in the woods. He especially liked those long walks home from church. "We didn't walk too fast," he said. "We loved spending time together. We always took the long way home. We even had to cross a creek, and I didn't want her to get her Sunday shoes wet, so I carried her across. She was light as a feather, weighing only 93 pounds." He thinks he could still pick her up and carry her across a creek. Their romance was interrupted by World War I. While he fought for his country, she waited for him at home. After the war, they married in 1919. They lived with his parents for awhile, until they could accumulate what they needed to move out on their own. The couple have two sons. Both served in World War II. The oldest son, Marles, never saw any action, but Harold was on a ship that was bombed by the Japanese in the Pacific. The couple lived in fear and suspense for several weeks before they got word that Harold had survived on his life raft and was picked up by another Navy battleship. When the war was over, they came home to help their parents with the family farm. Last month, their family and friends hosted a birthday party when Zella turned 100. Their great-nephew, James White, was there and he told this story. "When my parents married 61 years ago, they spent their wedding night at Zella and Reta's house….the very house they are living in today. There was a fireplace in the bedroom, and Aunt Zella built a fire and then lit, candles and put them in the room to create a romantic atmosphere. My mother was scared, as she'd never slept with a man and she asked Aunt Zella if she could sleep with her and let the two men sleep together. Aunt Zella told her that she didn't believe the men would stand for that, and for her to go and go on to bed with her new husband." We all enjoyed Aunt Zella's birthday party so much," said James. "They are both so alert and haven't forgotten a thing." On the day of the interview, Reta was tired and didn't have much to say, except that he'd been cleaning up the kitchen after supper and he didn't feel very good. But Zella was smiling and happy and eager to tell about her love for her husband of 77 years. "There's nothing like him in the world. He made me very happy all these years and I wouldn't trade him off at all." A home health care nurse who visits them regularly said. "They do real well on their own. They are a happy couple and very much in love."

(a picture of Reta and Zella with the caption below)

RETA AND ZELLA Hopper still enjoy a little smooching after almost 77 years of marriage. In their courting days, he often carried her across the creek, and he still likes to hold her in his lap. His lips are puckered and ready for a kiss.

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